Welkinharmonie Concert Tour

The Welkinharmonie Concert Tour

The composer at the console of the organ at the National Cathedral.

Beginning in 2015, Douglas will be performing his multimedia organ work Welkinharmonie in a North American concert tour. A sequel to his award-winning, virtuosic piano cycle Colonnades, which incorporated poetry and photography, Welkinharmonie picks up where Colonnades left off, using text and music to meditate on the mythic cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction.

Tour dates include:

  • Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C. – March 1, 2015 (rescheduled to October 25, 2015 at 5:15 p.m. due to inclement weather)
  • The Church of the Epiphany (Episcopal), Washington, D.C. – April 14, 2015
  • St. David’s Church, Baltimore, Maryland – May 1, 2015
  • First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, Texas – June 7, 2015
  • First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania – October 21, 2016
The composer in performance at the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, June 7, 2015

The composer in performance at the Sipe Organ of the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas

Tour dates for Fall 2016 are currently being set and will be announced this summer. If you are interested in hosting a performance of Welkinharmonie, you are encouraged to contact the composer at <dbuchanan@stdavidsrolandpark.com>.

About Welkinharmonie, the composer writes:

Dr. Douglas Buchanan performing on the Skinner organ at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C.

Welkinharmonie, or “sky-music,” is a meditation on the mythic cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction that is at the heart of many faith traditions, particularly Vedic Hinduism. The work draws on a number of sources: most prominently, it references the “organ masses” of the Baroque era, where chants or hymn tunes would be quoted in organ works and placed in the order in which they would appear in the service. This historical tradition was accompanied by contrapuntal workmanship, so in some senses Welkinharmonie grapples with how to create counterpoint in a musical language that freely uses consonance and dissonance. Lastly, the “sky-sounds” bear relationship to mathematical and astronomical studies of our constantly expanding, ever-changing and ever-mysterious universe. Each sphere therefore deals somehow with the infinite: the exploration of eternity through faith, the infinite possibilities of a post-tonal musical language, and the limitless potential of the universe. Ultimately, Welkinharmonie is a ruminative twenty-first century statement of faith, blending elements of myth, science, and musical study.

Dr. Buchanan performing the premiere on the Cassavant organ of St. David’s Episcopal Church, Baltimore

Still curious? Hear a few samples from previous performances of Welkinharmonie with their accompanying poetic texts (music and text © Douglas Buchanan 2015).

I. Praeludium – Toccata Capriccioso

I

III. Overture – Ciaconna Giubilante

III

IV. Antiphon I

A blank line, two

V. Mandala of the Four Winds (Arabesque)

Mandala of the Four Winds

VI. Fantasia Canonica: Ricercare di Campane

VI.

VII. Mandala of the Unquiet Earth (Variations on a Ground)

Mandal Text

X. Mandala of the Quenched Flame (Etude)

X

XI. & XII. Postludium (Quodlibet Nocturnam) & Antiphon III (Euoeuae)

XIXII

Glossary (in order of movements)

Praeludium – Toccata Capriccioso: In the Baroque era, a Prelude was a piece of free counterpoint featuring chordal figuration, while a Toccata (meaning “touch”) was a work that demonstrated technique. Caprice means “playful.”

Mandala: a ritual symbol in Tibetan Buddhism representing the universe, the most basic form of which includes a central square with four “gates” or entrances. 

Overture – Ciaconna Giubilata: In the Baroque era, the overture was associated with the majestic, and, in the French tradition, alternated between chordal and contrapuntal sections. A Ciacon (or “chaconne”) features variations over a bass line or harmonic progression.

Antiphon: literally “sounding against,” an antiphon is frequently a sung responsory in a Christian religious service.

Arabesque: An intricate design, particularly in rugs or tapestries.

Fantasia Canonica: Ricercare di Campane: Literally “Canonic Fantasy: Seeking After Bells,” a Ricercar was a late-Renaissance contrapuntal form featuring continuous imitation. Here, the imitated melody undergoes a process of note-shifting akin to the tradition of change-ringing in English Cathedrals, a sort of rearrangement of “genetic” material, and a metaphor for the balance between constancy and change utilized frequently throughout the work.

Etude: Literally, “study;” a work emphasizing technique

Postludium: Quodlibet Nocturnam: Literally, “Postlude: Make What You Will of the Night,” in the Baroque era a Quodlibet was a “mash-up” of preexisting melodies.

Euouae: In Medieval chant, an abbreviation of the Latin phrase “in saecula saeculorum, Amen,” meaning “generation to generation;” the poetic intent is sung in the Doxology: “As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.”

2 thoughts on “Welkinharmonie Concert Tour

  1. Doug – so great to see all this at St. David’s – a long way from St. Mark’s on the Hill! Best wishes for the future. – Tom Spacht

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